MARKET REPORTS 

Workhorse lands $70 million to ramp up production of electric last-mile delivery vehicles

Amazon’s delivery super-hippies seem to be hitting a bit of turbulence as new competitors move in and Amazon grows more cautious and cautious is good.

The latest report, from Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway, seemed to confirm that Bezos has ambitious plans for venture capital’s help, with a $3 billion investment in battery maker Silevo, electric delivery giant (that has a whole trucking system) Boston Semi, and a stake in solar energy company Sunrun. As Bloomberg noted, Amazon is betting that electric delivery might be the next big thing.

But the success of electric delivery hasn’t been smooth or smooth-sailing. According to this story, Boston Semi has burned through “over $200 million in equity and borrowed money” since 2009, while the delivery company Commuter Van shut down in June. And Tesla is trying to take some share, not necessarily expanding its delivery network, but trying to put electric vehicles in the hopper.

So the whole plan seems to be far from certain. Then there’s the gas mileage to consider. As Bloomberg explains, it’s estimated that the Silevo’s batteries on a battery-only “range vehicle” like the Model S need to be between 300-500 miles per charge to get the car into the green zone. But while that seems to be a reasonable figure, earlier in the year, the Tesla driver’s log pointed to the NHTSA claiming that “a current electric vehicle won’t get more than 50 miles per charge”. It doesn’t help that, as Bloomberg noted, a Tesla SUV could get 200 miles of range, but would need “four or five hours” to charge at Tesla’s mammoth Supercharger station network. Amazon’s new push into electric delivery may seem ambitious, but, for these reasons, it still has a lot to prove.

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